Judge denies ‘stand your ground’ defense for gunman in racist tirade on MLK Day 2019 in Brickell

MIAMI – Videos show Mark Bartlett wielded a loaded gun while yelling racial slurs to Black protesters — some of whom were as young as 11 years old — while they were blocking Brickell Avenue on Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2019 in Miami.

A witness’s video shows Deante Joseph, one of the protesters, was holding a “Preserve Affordable Housing” sign when Bartlett, then 51, shouted, “Get in front of my car! You f [expletive] piece of s [expletive],” and “N [racial slur]s suck!”

On Thursday, Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Alberto Milian heard Bartlett’s testimony on why he acted the way he did on Jan. 21, 2019, and why he thinks he deserves a “stand your ground” defense. Bartlett said he took the gun with him “just in case.”

“In case I needed it ... Like I said, I had no idea what was happening,” said Bartlett, now 54.

Earlier this year, Bartlett’s attorney filed a motion for statutory immunity from criminal prosecution and civil action on justifiable use of force. Milian denied the motion on Thursday afternoon.

When the student protesters blocked Brickell Avenue to raise awareness about the lack of affordable housing, Dana Scalione, a real estate agent, was a passenger waiting in Bartlett’s Range Rover.

Scalione got out of the SUV to confront the protesters face to face. A witness’ video shows Scalione saying, “You are going to end up in jail,” “Please, move your bike,” “I have kids I need to pick up! You guys are blocking me,” and “This is not saving your cause.”

Another witness’ video shows Scalione accused a teenage boy of running over her foot, and pushed him. He didn’t push her back. Bartlett, her boyfriend at the time, jumped out of the Range Rover with a gun and continued his racist tirade.

Bartlett demanded a trial by jury on Jan. 22, 2019, and submitted a written plea of not guilty on Feb. 19, 2019. He is facing five felony charges of carrying a concealed weapon, three counts of aggravated assault with prejudice, and improper exhibition of a firearm.

Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle released the following statement Friday: “Having always believed that Mark Bartlett’s actions on the Brickell Avenue bridge were a violation of Florida law and motivated by racial hostility, we now look forward to taking this case to trial.

“Disproving the self-defense arguments of Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law can be a very difficult hurdle for prosecutors to overcome. Now that my prosecutors have done that, it is time to move this long-delayed case to trial.

“I commend Assistant State Attorneys Jonathan Borst and Citra Joseph and Chief Assistant Kathleen Hoague for their hard work on this case recognizing that there is still much, much more to be done before this case is finally resolved.”

4:30 p.m. update on hearing

About the Authors:

Liane Morejon is an Emmy-winning reporter who joined the Local 10 News family in January 2010. Born and raised in Coral Gables, Liane has a unique perspective on covering news in her own backyard.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.